Hinterland Green

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Honda Hybrid, Insight, Unveiled Today at the Detroit Auto Show, To Challenge Champ, Toyota's Prius

The new Honda Insight hybrid has arrived and it promises to revolutionize the hybrid market by making gas-electric cars affordable. But the five-door hatchback with a rock-bottom price isn't the Prius killer Honda might have hoped for. The car was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show and when it rolls into showrooms on April 22, which is Earth Day, it will undercut the Toyota Prius by several thousand dollars. That won't be enough to knock a car that's synonymous with hybrid technology from its pedestal, but the 2010 Insight poses the first credible threat to Toyota's dominance of the hybrid market. It's widely expected to cost no more than $20,000, and Honda almost certainly will sell every one of the 100,000 Insights destined for North America this year.
Analysts say as many as half those sales could be siphoned away from Toyota. The next-generation Prius will debut during the show. But the Insight has more than a great price going for it. With its stellar fuel economy, snappy acceleration and clever interactive dashboard designed to help drivers maximize efficiency, the Insight is the world's first fun hybrid. Source: Wired
Honda spent more than two years developing the car, which gets its name from the two-seater Insight hybrid that was the first gas-electric vehicle sold in the United States when it was introduced in 10 years ago. The car never caught on, while the Prius outsold Honda hybrids by roughly four to one. Ouch. Honda discontinued the vehicle in 2006 and pulled the plug on the Honda hybrid the next year.

To read more about the Honda Insight, CLICK HERE.

Barge Use Decline Spurs Questions on Best Use of Missouri River

Long-haul commercial barges on the Missouri River can be as hard to spot as the endangered pallid sturgeon. In 2002, the amount hauled dipped below 1 million tons and has failed to reach that level again. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated that barges hauled about 300,000 tons in 2007 and 350,000 tons in 2008. That compares to the Chain of Rocks Lock on the Mississippi River near St. Louis, where barges hauled 68 million tons in 2007.The corps blamed the lack of barge traffic on a long drought that had depleted reservoirs in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. » read more

Florida to Freeze Land Preservation Program

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In the deepest of sweeping cuts to environmental programs, Florida lawmakers plan to ax the state's premier land-buying program, Florida Forever.The Legislature is moving to freeze the $300 million annual land fund, which has preserved more than a half-million acres of ecologically sensitive lands across the state -- enough to cover a third of Everglades National Park.

They also aim to whack programs that mend injured manatees, clean up polluted waterways and build new gopher tortoise habitat to make amends for those buried alive under development. » read more

Giant Plasma Televisions Face Ban in Battle to go Green in Britain

Those giant flat-screened plasma televisions you see hanging around will soon be banned. Well, in Britain, that is. The energy-guzzlers will be banned as part of efforts to fight against climate change. The ministers told The Independent newspaper that minimum energy standards for televisions are expected to be agreed upon across Europe this spring and should lead to the phasing out of the most inefficient televisions. At the same time, a compulsory labeling system will be drawn up will be drawn up to identify the best and worst devices.

The moves, which follow last week's withdrawal of the 100W incandescent lightbulb, are part of a drive to slow the rapid growth of electricity consumption in homes by phasing out wasteful devices and introducing more efficient ones. Giant plasma televisions – dubbed "the 4x4s of the living room" – can consume four times as much energy as traditional TVs that used cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Source: The Independent
We have used technological advances to our benefit tremendously. Over the past 30 years, the number of electric appliances and gadgets in a typical home has almost trebled – from 17 to 47 – as a host of devices from scanners to security systems, cappuccino makers to computer game consoles have joined the more traditional kettles, irons, vacuum cleaners and cookers. The number of televisions in homes has also grown rapidly. There are reportedly 60 million of them, one for every person in Britain.

There is an obvious downside to this latest explosion of technology at our fingertips. The amount of power needed to run this electronic explosion has more than doubled in the same period, and the official Energy Savings Trust estimates that it will grow by another 12 per cent over the next four years.

The boom in flatscreen TVs, partly spurred by the digital changeover, is helping to fuel the increase, as is the growing size of the screens. The result is a high electric bill. Different makes and models of television vary in their use of power, but a 42in plasma television may use some 822 kilowatt hours a year, compared to 350kWh by an LCD flat screen of the same size. A 32in CRT, the biggest available, would use 322kWh. Manufacturers must respond by making their products greener.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gypsum Pond Leaks into Widows Creek, Three Weeks After Tennessee Valley Authority Suffered Nation's Worst Spill Ever at a Coal Plant

This is absolutely amazing. Less than three weeks after the Tennessee Valley Authority suffered the nation's worst spill ever at a coal power plant, another pond at another TVA plant has leaked gypsum-laden water into a nearby creek.

At the Widows Creek Fossil Plant, the leak from a pipe at a 147-acre gypsum pond was repaired Friday morning, TVA officials said, but not before enough water and gypsum caused a settling pond to overflow into Widows Creek, which flows into the Tennessee River.

The leak was found about 6 a.m. at one of the ponds -- about a mile from the plant -- used to store residue from the air scrubber at the Widows Creek plant. An employee found the leak during one of the twice daily walk-throughs conducted by TVA personnel, which have doubled since the Kingston, Tenn., spill, TVA spokesman Gil Francis said.

This latest leak at a TVA coal plant in such a short period of time raises some very serious concerns about the integrity of the ash ponds where, as you know, potentially toxic coal ash is dumped.

Friday, January 2, 2009

U.S. Evangelicals Divided Over "Green Bible"

As if we need another controversy, U.S. evangelicals have said that they are divided over a new "Green Bible" which embraces environmentalism and a need to protect the Earth. Personally, I think this is much ado about nothing.

The Green Bible has been endorsed by secular groups such as the Humane Society and the Sierra Club. It shows people that "God is calling us to care for the world around us," said Rusty Pritchard, editor of Creation Care Magazine, a publication for evangelicals.

Other evangelicals are concerned the Green Bible will mislead Christians because it does not interpret Scripture literally, said James Taylor, a founding elder at Living Water Christian Fellowship in Palmetto, Fla.

"These groups don't have a religious focus; they have a desire to spread their environmental message," Taylor said of the essayists who contributed to the Green Bible, which contains a foreword from Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

According to The Arizona Republic, an estimated 25,000 copies have been sold by HarperOne since the book's release in October.